Building a sustainable future with ISO 21930

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Por Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis
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With urban populations worldwide swelling, there’s an urgent need to calculate the sustainable performance of the buildings that we live and work in. But the variety and complexity of methods available can seem overwhelming. This is where ISO 21930:2017 comes into play. 

The latest edition of ISO 21930:2017, Sustainability in buildings and civil engineering works – Core rules for environmental product declarations of construction products and services, will help assess the eco-friendliness of a building or infrastructure projects using a common method for expressing environmental product declarations (EPD).

An EPD for a construction product is a transparent declaration of its life-cycle impact (incorporating raw material production, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning). This in turn provides the information needed to assess the environmental impacts of an entire building or civil engineering works. What’s key about EPDs is that they provide a transparent, independent and reproducible analysis of the environmental impacts of construction products and give detailed information with sound data and figures. As a “sustainability passport”, EPDs form the basis for designing green buildings and other civil engineering works.

EPDs developed in accordance with ISO 21930 serve as a “green building” tool using a fair, open and science-based evaluation process that allows all materials and products to compete on a level playing field. It will help create uniformity and consistency in the way environmental product declarations are made for construction products and services (i.e. most building materials, flooring and windows, just to name a few).

“In the world of construction, ISO 21930 has the capacity to make a major contribution to building a more sustainable future for our planet,” says Anne Roenning, leading the team of experts that developed the new standard. “It will significantly contribute to reducing climate change and other environmental impacts attributable to the construction sector and the built environment.”

Quantifying a building’s sustainability using ISO 21930 has the following advantages:

  • Comparability: Ensure that comparable environmental information is generated and used, without creating technical barriers to trade.
  • Efficiency: Reduce the “environmental footprint” through a better understanding of the greatest impacts (including those attributable both upstream and downstream) within the chain of processes involved in producing products.
  • Reliability: Provide increased credibility and a level of confidence that enables the public to use such information for decision making when choosing and using construction products.

ISO 21930 is intended for both providers and users of information related to environmental performance of construction products, including designers, manufacturers, end users and owners in the building and construction sector, as well as those involved in EPD Programmes. This second edition, which replaces ISO 21930:2007, was updated in response to, and to align with, actual experience in the different markets and EPD programmes around the world.

ISO 21930:2017 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 59, Buildings and civil engineering works, subcommittee SC 17, Sustainability in buildings and civil engineering works, whose secretariat is held by AFNOR, ISO’s member for France. It is now available from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.

Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis
Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis

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